Familiar Script for Wilson/49ers; Typical College Football Saturday; Kliavkoff's Fantasy
As the game wound down, you knew how it was going to end.
In a rerun of a show we've seen so many times before, Russell Wilson was going to lead his team to a fourth quarter comeback win over the 49ers.
Wilson was 17-4 against the 49ers during his 10-year career with the Seattle Seahawks. Last night, he broke the 49ers' hearts again by extending plays, scrambling for first downs, and hitting back shoulder completions to rally his new team, the Denver Broncos, to an 11-10 victory in the final minutes.
While the 49ers' defense played brilliantly until that final drive, the offense was another matter entirely. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who I've defended throughout the past few years, gave plenty of ammunition to his critics with a miserable performance.
The Broncos shut down Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, leaving Garoppolo with few options. But he threw behind receivers, was jittery and immobile in the pocket, and had numerous throws deflected or tipped. He stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety, negating an even more disastrous pick six at the goal line.
It was ugly.
Bad Day for QBs: Garoppolo wasn't the only quarterback to have problems yesterday. Two of the best of all time—Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady—struggled in the Packers 14-12 win, while Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, the best of the younger breed, both suffered low-scoring upset losses.
Dolphins Emerge: The Miami Dolphins are the early season surprise team in the NFL. After yesterday's upset win over Buffalo, the Dolphins are 3-0.
Their new coach is Mike McDaniel, who for the last five years was the run game coordinator and offensive coordinator for the 49ers.
Perhaps his absence has something to do with the 49ers offensive woes?
Meanwhile, the college game featured its usual bonanza of thrills and high-scoring games decided in the last seconds or overtime.
Oregon 44, WSU 41, Down by 12 points late in the fourth quarter, the Ducks scored 22 in 2:48 to come from behind in a highly-entertaining game featuring great performances by both quarterbacks—WSU's Cameron Ward and Oregon's Bo Nix.
Clemson 51, Wake Forest 45 in double overtime as highly-touted Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalele had his best game.
Texas Tech 37, Texas 34 in double OT as Steve Sarkisian's team continued to blow early leads.
USC 17, Oregon State 14, Outplayed most of the game, the Trojans escaped Reser Stadium, which has been a house of horrors for them over the years, on a game-winning TD pass with 1:13 left.
Texas A&M 23, Arkansas 21, Arkansas' potential game-winning field goal on the final play hit the top of the upright and fell short.
Auburn 17, Missouri 14, The Tigers blew two slam dunks that would've won the game. Their outstanding kicker missed a chip shot at the end of regulation, then running back Nathaniel Peat (transfer from Stanford) dropped the ball as he reached across the goal line in OT.
Michigan 34, Maryland 27. Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines needed every one of Blake Corum's 243 rushing yards to win.
TCU 42, SMU 34 in TCU coach Sonny Dykes' return to the school he left behind.
Notre Dame 45, North Carolina 32. The Irish finally found an offense.
Middle Tennessee 45, Miami 31, as the Hurricanes gave up TD passes of 98, 89, 71 and 69 yards (so much for Mario Cristobal's defensive chops).
Bay Area Teams Headed in Different Directions
Cal 49, Arizona 31. The Bears improved to 3-1 behind freshman running back Jaydn Ott's 274 yards and 3 TDs (including 73 and 72 yarders).
Cal could be 4-0 but for a phantom offside penalty that led to a Notre Dame touchdown in a 24-17 loss.
Washington 40, Stanford 22. Cardinal QB Tanner McKee spent most of the game on his back, getting sacked eight times by the Husky defense.
Stanford has now lost eight straight conference games dating back to last season. With Oregon in Eugene this weekend, and then a tough Oregon State team at home, the Cardinal is in jeopardy of losing 10 straight if it can’t keep McKee upright and do a better job of holding onto the football. Stanford has 11 turnovers in 3 games.
Kliavkoff’s Folly: Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff sent the UC regents a three page letter last week asking them to disallow UCLA’s move to the Big Ten. The letter was a shameful example of inaccuracy, hypocrisy and desperation.
Kliavkoff did a lot of preaching about how the poor UCLA student-athletes would spend so much time traveling across the country that they’d miss a bunch of class time and suffer mental anguish.
Funny how the conference never worried about these things when it scheduled basketball teams for away games on Wednesday and Sunday, or football teams for Thursday and Friday night contests. In fact, a few years ago UCLA had to play successive games on Thursday night, leading then coach Jim Mora to complain publicly.
Kliavkoff also made the preposterous argument that UCLA would actually lose money by moving to the Big Ten, claiming that increased costs for travel and coaching salaries would more than offset the revenue gained through the conference’s massive media rights deal.
But Kliavkoff’s math doesn’t add up. The Bruins will net an average of $75M per year from the media rights deal, more than twice what they’d get from the Pac-12. Their increased travel will be nowhere near the 10-15M Kliavkoff projects, as several Olympic sports teams (water polo, men's volleyball and gymnastics) will not compete in the Midwest.
And the Bruins already pay their coaches very well; in fact, football coach Chip Kelly and basketball coach Mick Cronin recently signed extensions.
Fact is, UCLA will net at least $25-35 million more per year by switching conferences, and that doesn’t include the extra revenue they’ll make from the Big Ten Network rather than the failing Pac-12 network, or the additional dollars they’ll collect because of the Big Ten’s superiority in March Madness and College Football Playoff appearances.
As for the regents, I doubt they will try to thwart the Bruins’ move, due to the precedent it would set and the likelihood of litigation from the Big Ten. It’s more likely that they’ll ask UCLA to compensate Cal, its sister school in the UC system, for lost media rights revenue due to the Pac-12’s loss of the LA market.
Of course, asking UCLA to share its revenue gain with Cal would also prove the absurdity of Kliavkoff’s claims.